A case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu has been confirmed in China, but authorities say it is another instance where the spread of the disease has been limited to a close blood relative. And in this case an experimental H5N1 vaccine demonstrated that it could possibly vanquish the lethal virus, which could have significant implications for the development of a pandemic vaccine.
A father caring for a sick son--who died--contracted the illness and was treated unsuccessfully with antivirals. Then he was given plasma drawn from a woman who had received an experimental bird flu vaccine that had been made from whole, killed H5N1. The vaccine was made by Sinovac from a 2004 Vietnamese strain of the disease. If researchers can show that the recovery was linked to the vaccine, the whole virus vaccine could prove a key to spurring immunity to a range of possible mutations of H5N1.
Late last year another bird flu patient in China recovered after being given plasma from a survivor of bird flu, pointing to the role that therapeutic antibodies could play in a fight against a potential pandemic.
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